Since her days playing the evil Alexis Carrington on the 1980s television series Dynasty, Joan Collins has relished the role of the scheming troublemaker.
And forget the Australian outback: Collins is a true life survivor. A driven woman, Collins has had four husbands, and was once engaged to Warren Beatty. She has reinvented herself for the last five decades, continually creating her own opportunities.
"I really wanted to play Cruella DeVil in 101 Dalmatians, but they wanted a big star so they went for Glenn Close, and she was wonderful, but I always hankered because I tend to be Cruella DeVil with my children sometimes," Collins told Good Morning America.
But her children knew their mom too well.
"You know, they knew that it was mommy playacting," Collins said.
But in Hollywood, executives do not look kindly on aging actresses. The older you get, the tougher to come by new roles.
Over the Hill at 35?
And indeed, Collins says that after 35, the offers usually dwindle.
"Let's face it, if you're an actress, you love working, and if you're working on something that gives you huge pleasure to do, then that's a bonus," Collins said.
There have been dry spells, but she continually bounces back. Besides her acting, she's had success both as a producer and an author.
Since her 1978 bestseller Past Imperfect, Collins has written nine books, a feat that presumably would add tension to a reportedly strained relationship with her best-selling writer sister, Jackie Collins.
But Collins denied the suggestion.
"It's exactly the same as it was before," she said. Both of them can write and be successful, Collins said.
She has more than 80 films to her credit since her debut in 1951's Lady Godiva Rides Again, but there are some roles Collins would rather forget.
This Old Broad
"The whole thing is about the Internet, is that if people want to really be nasty about me, which isn't too difficult, they can just go on the Internet, and they can look up my list of films, and they can take out the ones with the worst titles like Empire of the Ants, or I Don't Want to be Born, Collins said. "I mean, they don't want to say The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing or Sins or Virgin Queen."
Her latest project teams her with Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds, starring in tonight's TV movie These Old Broads. Does she mind being described as an old broad?
"Well, I take it personally because it's supposed to be so politically incorrect, that it's supposed to be very funny. The only thing that worries me is because of the demographics," Collins said. "I don't want the sort of 15 to 30-year-olds, say, "I don't want to see anything with "old" in the title." But I mean, I love being called a 'broad.' That's OK."
A lot of the buzz about this movie almost played off of the script itself, the script talking about these Hollywood legends that were brought back together to do this movie. There was an assumption that there must have been all sorts of jealousies and difficulties taking place.
Teasing Among Friends
Not so, Collins said.
"We got along really well because we loved insulting each other, particularly Shirley and me. Shirley and I were the ones who were always saying things like, `Oh, Shirley, do I have lipstick on my teeth?' And then she'd say, 'Why don't you take them out and check?'"
Then she'd tease MacLaine about "freckles" that some might call liver spots.
"We did a lot of this, and because we've known each other for years," Collins said. "A lot of the crew sometimes thought, 'Oh, God, these women really hate each other.' But I think if you really care about somebody and like them — and I have huge respect for Shirley and for the other two — then you can get away with things."
Indeed at the screening of These Old Broads, Collins told MacLaine that she was wearing more makeup than her, and MacLaine shot back, "That's impossible."
Asked what one role she'd like, Collins said she's still in the business and that she was willing to take on many.
"I'm not retiring," Collins said. "They'll have to wheel me on in a wheelchair."